Having now caught up on Game of Thrones in preparation for it ending tonight, let me just state that if I were in charge of the forces at Winterfell fighting off the undead hordes, I could have done so for as long as the food held out. No cavalry, no siege weapons required. With those + dragons I could probably outright win, given the rules of the world.
And I could have done it using tactics perfected by man since the days of the ancient Greek Hoplite almost 3000 years ago.
The most important thing to remember about the world of Game of Throne’s undead is the thing that the showrunners did, and did not forget (depending on the scene): Obsidian and Valeryian Steel literally shatter undead to icy chunks with a single good hit.
Another thing to note, is throughout the entirety of history, SPEARS were the primary weapon of war, and they remained so until the widespread use of firearms. Swords and exotic weapons were secondary. It is the earliest known weapon, and they were the dominant infantry weapon in Europe into the 16th century, and even further considering affixing a bayonet onto a rifle literally just turns it into a spear. They’re so simple to use and understand Chimpanzees in Senegal have been known to use them. However in modern times their use and usefulness throughout history has been criminally underrated. They lack the sex appeal and skill required of a sword, and they aren’t analogous to firearms like bows are. They’re the workhorse of the military nobody bothered to talk about, and only show up in Game of Thrones to look good and because they’re still ‘expected’ of the setting. But the tactics of the show (lets all just run at each other, no formation required) don’t put them to any use.
So that being said: There’s two solutions that would work equally well to defeat the undead. And they both require one thing: Instead of making stupid waste of material weapons like swords and axes with the dragonglass, you make spears (I’m assuming they made arrows in the show already). You can make a whole lot more of them in a whole lot less time.
Option 1: The still pretty stupid one, but one where you feel you need to win instead of hold and potentially starve to death in an eternal siege: park your dudes outside the castle (why on earth would you fight for a castle, with the defenders being OUTSIDE the defenses?) in either long unbroken rows four deep, or in a box formation just far enough apart that anything trying to get between gets murderized. When the undead hordes come, ranks 1 and 2 of the rows (or just rank 2 if you want the first rank to ‘hold the wall’ steady) spear them into oblivion before they even reach close combat (remember one hit with obsidian literally shatters undead, wouldn’t even have to worry about bodies piling up) and just poke away until tired, once tired, rows 3-4 replace 1-2. Repeat until fight’s over. Obsidian tipped arrows, cavalry charges, or ballista to take care of the undead giants or whatever unexpected thing arises, and voila, we can do this all night, not even a scratch on the castle.
Option 2: The smartest way to play it would be to just park as many people and spears on the wall as possible and just poke down. If gates are breached then a cavalry counter charge happens while defenders shore up the gate defenses, and park spearmen behind barricades and murder holes. Against the mindless hordes, the castle would literally last until the food ran out. With freaking dragons it becomes even easier. If a place looks like it’s going to be overwhelmed, you just torch the ground outside of the wall a bit to buy some time for people to rotate in/out.
That was probably the single most annoying episode I have watched. I was internally screaming ‘WHAT THE F ARE YOU DOING’ for pretty much the whole thing. Idiot California based artisians who don’t know shit about the simplest and well known military strategies of ALL TIME is what happened.
And that’s my rant for the day.